Most people remember the day I broke the 2,000-yard rushing barrier for my 67-yard run around right end down, my acceleration down the sideline with snow in the background at Folsum Field, my teammates joining a dogpile celebration in the end zone and then my fellow Buffaloes hoisting me on their shoulders.
But that’s not what comes to mind for me. What I’m most proud of was how the 2,000-yard milestone served as a walk-off home run for our head coach’s College Football Hall of Fame career.
Shortly after the game, Bill McCartney surprised everyone when he announced his retirement after 13 seasons as Colorado’s head coach. No one saw that coming. Some guys and fans were hurt Coach Mac retired at age 54.
But I think his timing was perfect. He done everything at Colorado – a national title, three Big Eight titles and now a running back with 2,000 yards who was about to be named the Colorado’s first Heisman Trophy winner. I take a lot of pride in that.
Sure enough, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013. I hope to join him someday.
As I’ve said earlier in the series, once we lost our national championship to Nebraska and were caught sleepwalking to a win over Oklahoma State, our focused shifted the last two games against Kansas and Iowa State to getting me to that 2,000-yard barrier. It was a way for the team and offensive line to share in my success.
Only three other players had rushed for 2,000 yards in a season and they were all Heisman Trophy winners: USC’s Marcus Allen in 1981, Nebraska’s Mark Rozier in 1983 and Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders in 1988.
I entered the game with leading the nation in rushing with 1,796 yards. I finished with 29 carries for 259 yards and two touchdowns. My Colorado record stands at 2,055 yards in 11 regular-season games.
The touchdown gave us a 34-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter and Coach Mac pulled me. There were five games when I didn’t play in the third quarter. That makes me wonder how many yards I left on the field, but Coach Mac said he didn’t want to pad my stats; he wanted me to win the Heisman with legitimate numbers.
As a team we set a school record with 495.3 yards per game and quarterback Kordell Stewart finished as the Big Eight’s all-time all-purpose yardage leader.
Those were great times and great memories – three great years at CU. All that was left was for us to learn our bowl destination and opponent. I didn’t announce it at the time, but I had already decided I would declare early for the NFL draft as a junior. My goal that year had been 1,500 yards.
Rashaan’s top five Heisman favorites
The Heisman Trophy Trust discourages voters from releasing their votes, but Rashaan is merely listing his favorites similar to media members.
- Marcus Mariota, Oregon, QB, RS Jr. Ducks ranked No. 2.
Last week, No. 1. No. 2 Oregon def. No. 7 Arizona 51-13; Mariota, 25 of 38 for 313, 2 TDs, 0 int; 19 rushes, 33, 2 TDs; season, 254 of 372, 3,773 yds, 38 TDs, 2 ints; 68.3 percent, 290.2 per game.
- Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin, RB, RS Jr., Badgers ranked No. 13
Last week, 2. No. 13 Wisconsin lost to No. 5 Ohio State 59-0; Gordon rushed 26 times for 76 yards and 0 TDs; season, 283 carries, 2,260 yards, 26 TDs, 188.3 average, long of 69.
- Jameis Winston, Florida State, QB, RS So. Seminoles ranked No. 4.
Last week, No. 3. No. 4 Florida State def. No. 11 Georgia Tech 37-35; Winston, 21 of 30 for 309 yds with 3 TDs and 0 int; 1 rush for 5 yds, 0 TD; season, 276 of 422 for 3,559 yds, 24 TDs, 17 ints; 65.4 percent, 396.5 yards per game.
- Amari Cooper, Alabama, WR, Jr., Crimson Tide ranked No. 1.
Last week, No. 4. No. 1 Alabama def. No. 16 Missouri 42-13; Cooper caught 12 balls for 83 yards and 0 touchdown; season, 115 catches for 1,656 yards with 14 tds and long scores of 80 and 79 yards.
- J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, RS Fr. Buckeyes ranked No. 5
Last week, 5. No. 5 Ohio State def. No. 13 Wisconsin 59-0, but Barrett missed the game with an injury suffered in the Big Ten Championship game; season, 203 of 314 for 2,834 yards with 34 TDs and 10 ints; 64.6 percent, 236.2 yards per game; 171 rushes, 1,402 yards, 12 TDs, long 81 yards; school record with 45 combined touchdowns.
Rashaan’s 1994 Heisman season
- Sept. 3: No. 8 Colorado (1-0) def. Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana Monroe) 48-13. Rashaan carried 24 times for 183 yards with three touchdowns and caught three passes for 40 yards.
- Sept. 10: bye week
- Sept. 17:No. 7 Colorado (2-0) def. No. 10 Wisconsin 55-17. Rashaan carried 25 times for 85 yards and four touchdowns.
- Sept. 24:No. 7 Colorado (3-0) def. No. 4 Michigan 27-26. Rashaan carried 22 times for 141 yards, two TDs; he also caught three passes for 18 yards.
- Oct. 1: No. 5 Colorado (4-0) def. at No. 16 Texas 34-31. Rashaan carried 35 times for 317 yards and one touchdown. He also caught five balls for 45 yards.
- Oct. 8: No. 5 Colorado (5-0) def. Missouri 38-23. Rashaan carried 26 times for 166 yards with two touchdowns. He caught one pass for 41 yards.
- Oct. 15: No. 4 Colorado (6-0) def. No. 22 Oklahoma 45-7. Rashaan carried 25 times for 161 yards and 4 TDs. He caught one pass for 7 yards. At this point in the season, his rushing total was 158 carries, 1,052 yards and 16 TDs. He averaging 6.7 yards per carry, 175.3 yards a game and 2.7 touchdowns a game.
- Oct. 22: No. 2 Colorado def. No. 19 Kansas State 35-21. Rashaan carried 28 times for 202 yards with two touchdowns; he caught one pass for 2 yards. It was the only the third time in the season his work was not done by the fourth quarter.
- Oct. 29: No. 2 Colorado lost at No. 3 Nebraska 24-7. Rashaan carried 22 times for 124 yards and one touchdown and caught two passes for 24 yards.
- Nov. 5: No. 7 Colorado def. unranked Oklahoma State 17-3. Rashaan carried 29 times for 174 yards but without a score. He caught two passes for 28 yards
- Nov. 12: No. 7 Colorado def. unranked Kansas 51-26; Rashaan carried 30 times for 232 yards and three TDs. He caught three passes for 16 yards.
- Nov. 19: No. 7 Colorado def. unranked Iowa State 41-20. Rashaan carried 29 times for 259 yards and two touchdowns and one catch for 4 yards.
- Fiesta Bowl, Tempe: Jan. 2, 1995 vs. unranked Notre Dame